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Reuters September 14, 2005

Russia warns U.S. against new nuclear doctrine

BERLIN (Reuters) - Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov warned the United States on Tuesday against any change of its defence doctrine to allow pre-emptive use of atomic weapons, saying it would prompt others to seek nuclear arms.

A draft revision of the U.S. Defense Department's nuclear operations doctrine was made available at the weekend, outlining the use of nuclear weapons to pre-empt an enemy's attack with weapons of mass destruction.

"Lowering the threshold for use of atomic weapons is in itself dangerous," Ivanov told a news conference ahead of a NATO defence ministers meeting in Berlin.

"Such plans do not limit, but in fact promote efforts by others to develop (nuclear weapons)," said Ivanov, who was speaking through an interpreter.

He said he hoped U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would inform him if such a change to the U.S. military doctrine were planned.

The draft "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations," dated March 15, revised the "discussion of nuclear weapons use across the range of military operations."

According to the document, combatant commanders could request approval from the president to use nuclear weapons under a variety of scenarios, such as to pre-empt an enemy's use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States, multinational or alliance forces or civilian populations.

A Defense Department spokesman said at the weekend the document had not yet been given to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. It is due to be signed within the next few weeks by the director of the Joint Staff, the spokesman said.

The unclassified document was available on numerous Web sites such as GlobalSecurity.org, a defense policy Web site. A Pentagon site, however, listed the document as unavailable.

Copyright 2005, Reuters